Call centers add value to all kinds of businesses, but the first question executives ask before taking on any business expense is usually, “How much is this going to cost me?” Call center agents more than simply their hourly wage; it’s important for businesses to find ways to reduce costs without sacrificing customer service quality. The following article outlines the metrics that can be used to calculate cost-per-call, and some tips on keeping call center expenses low.
The most obvious expense in a call center is employee wages, but so much more goes into making a call center run. One must also account for payroll taxes, as well as any benefits provided (including healthcare). Also included in call center staffing is he cost of recruitment and screening, which can cost as much as $2,500 per year, per employee. Training costs money, and additional operational costs must also be considered — the management team, HR, IT, and QA departments are all integral to maintaining quality in the call center.
There are also technology requirements; agents need a cubicle, a computer, a headset, furniture, and periodic maintenance to ensure all of the above are in working order. Additionally, general office supplies like pens, printer paper, staplers, and other items can cost as much as $1,500 per employee per year. Call centers then must purchase software licensing and networking technology. Finally, the odds and ends — HVAC costs, cleaning, printers and fax machines, unemployment benefits, turnover costs — all of which are important to consider. So, how does one go about reducing expenses without sacrificing the quality of service provided?
Because hiring and training employees is such a large expense, call centers needs to ensure quality training. Providing an excellent training program, as well as regular feedback and coaching creates an environment of knowledgeable employees who are encouraged to learn. This in turn can reduce call times, help increase first-call resolution, and help to improve customer service quality, all of which help to reduce your cost-per-call.
Keeping call quality high is a critical piece of keeping costs down, and the best way to do this is to implement live call monitoring. Managers should be instructed to periodically monitor calls and provide agents with feedback. This is a great tool to help shorten call times by ensuring both efficiency and quality.
Staffing costs can be huge, so it’s critical to schedule agents with that in mind. Paying attention to peak call times versus slow times, as well as agents’ adherence level to a daily schedule, can help you make smart staffing decisions.
Cost-per-call can seem expensive, but that doesn’t mean that hiring a contact center isn’t capable of turning a profit for your business if it is run correctly. Being aware of the costs of operating a call center is the first step toward reducing these costs, and can help you make smart decisions that keep your agents working at maximum efficiency.